Here are a couple of Webster’s definitions of follow that fit well for Father’s Day – to be or act in accordance with; to seek to attain. These give a good word picture of what I have tried to do, which is follow my Dad. To act like him and seeking to attain to who he is each day.
When I was little I tried to follow Dad because he was the biggest, strongest, smartest man in the world. When I was a teen I tried to follow Dad secretly, I didn’t really want him to know I was following. After all I was a teen and I had it all figured out. All you had to do was ask. Inside I knew I didn’t have much figured out, but I didn’t want you to know. I secretly suspected that my Dad had it figured out, not in the biggest, strongest way in which I believed as a kid, but in the things that mattered most. I wanted to follow in his shadow. As I became a Dad, I wanted to follow Dad because I now realized how much I didn’t know. I was starting to swing back to believing he was the smartest man in the world all over again. As I became a pastor I wanted to follow Dad because he was the best pastor and man I had ever known. I was now absolutely convinced he was maybe not the smartest man in the world, but I was beginning to suspect he was the wisest. As I experienced more of life I came to understand that wisdom mattered a lot more than smarts and physical strength. Now that I am a grandfather and have several years of my own in the rearview mirror, I still want to follow my Dad. Why? Because he first of all follows Jesus better than anyone I have ever known. Also, because as I have seen him face many difficult circumstances in his life he has never lost his joy and is even wiser as a result.
Yes, I have moved past the “my Dad is bigger (I got taller than him my sophomore year of high school), stronger and smarter than your Dad” phase. I am into my Dad is the best man and follower of Jesus I know and I am seeking to live that way no matter what crosses my path.
I have been asked many times through the years, “How was your Dad as a pastor?”, or “What was it like being the pastor’s kid?” I think he was the greatest pastor I have ever known and I loved my family and childhood. To let you know these are not empty words, think on this fact. As an adult I chose to have him as my pastor two different times before I became a pastor myself.
A few times someone who knew my Dad as a pastor has told me I sounded like my Dad or reminded them of my Dad. I confess that is close to the greatest compliment you could give me.
So Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you and I am still seeking to follow you.